The status of the European Union’s diplomats in the United States has been lowered without any prior notification from Washington.
“We understand that there was a recent change in the way the diplomatic precedence list is implemented by the United States’ protocol,” a Commission spokeswoman told a briefing, declining to give more details.
“We are currently discussing with the relevant services in the administration possible implications for the EU delegation in Washington.”
As reported by the Reuters news agency, this change in protocol for a close US ally means the bloc’s Washington-based diplomats are less likely to be invited to high-profile events and have a lower importance than under former President Barack Obama.
While the shift does not stop senior EU officials from meeting US counterparts, it follows a tumultuous year for transatlantic ties. Donald Trump withdrew from several international agreements backed by the EU and vowed to reform “the liberal international order” he says the bloc helps underpin.
In a separate report, The Independent noted that Brussels has expressed fury. An EU spokesperson told The Independent the 28-member bloc was not notified by Washington over the unannounced “recent change”, and that officials were in discussion with their US counterparts over “possible implications” for the delegation in Washington.
“The ties that we have between Europe and the United States extend well beyond Washington DC and run deep into our societies,” EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said.
“It continues to be the case that, even with an evolving transatlantic relationship as is the case today, our partnership on the many issues where our interests continue to converge is vital not just for Europeans, not just for Americans, but for people and countries around the world.
“This is why we are convinced that whatever policy disagreement we may have with the US administration, we remain natural partners, natural friends, and our friendship with the US is here to stay.”